Pavel Sapelka: Mikalai Autukhovich was actually deprived of the right to defense
August 5, 5he board of the Hrodna Regional Court considered the case on the extension of preventive supervision over the former political prisoner Mikalai Autukhovich.
At first the trial was appointed on August 6, but was suddenly moved one day backwards, as a result of which Mr. Autukhovich didn't manage to reach an agreement with his lawyer. He asked the court to postpone the hearing so that it could be attended by his counsel.
Predictably enough, the panel of judges announced that the trial would continue at 2 p.m., and if the lawyer wouldn't manage to come, he will be replaced with a state counsel.
July 17, Vaŭkavysk District Court turned down the request of Vaŭkavysk District Police Department to extend the term of preventive supervision over Mikalai Autukhovich. Shortly after it, the court decision was challenged by the acting prosecutor of Vaŭkavysk district.
Mikalai Autukhovich gave detailed comments on the hasty transfer of the trial:
"Consideration of the private protest was appointed by the court on August 6. I was informed that the hearing would take place on August 5 by an officer of Vaŭkavysk DPD in the evening of August 4. Taking into account the fact that I am deprived of the right to leave my home without permission due to the supervision and the lawyer works in Minsk, I was to have been assisted by friends in concluding the contract for the lawyer's services. The lawyer couldn't come to Hrodna Regional Court on August 5, that's why the contract for his participation at the court hearing on August 5 wasn't concluded, as it contradicted to the rules of the lawyer's work.
I told all these circumstances at the hearing and asked the court to consider my case on August 6. However, the panel of judges gave me clearly impossible conditions: to ensure the attendance of my lawyer until 2 p.m. on August 5 and stated that I would be provided with a state counsel would this be impossible. I regard such an approach as profanation of the rights of the defense: the appointed state counsel will also need time to study my case and prepare to the hearing. This lawyer should read my two sentences on the criminal cases, learn my attitude towards sentences, my biography, labor, social and business activities, the behavior before and after conviction. The case can be studied only after that. It is impossible to do it all for little time before the end of the day."
Lawyer and human rights activist Pavel Sapelka regards these actions of the panel of judges as a violation of the right to judicial defense:
"By denying the petition to postpone the hearing, the court deprived Mr. Autukhovich of his right to defense. Denial of the right to defense is an absolute ground for cancellation of the judicial determination of a criminal case.
The cancellation of the judge's ruling regarding he refusal to extend the preventive supervision will also be groundless as far as:
Mikalai Autukhovich served the term of preventive supervision with a minimal number and significance of infringements. He is characterized extremely positive, works, has a permanent place of residence, family and government awards.
And the objectives of the control over him as a person with previous conviction, can be full implemented by means of prophylactic supervision, as stipulated by Article 8.1 of the Criminal Code.”
August 6 the term of preventive supervision over Mikalai Autukhovich ends.